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in defense of poetry, with apologies to Percy Shelley

I spent about six weeks this semester teaching and talking about poetry with my students.  Almost to a person, they started the term with “eh…I don’t much like poetry,” and “I don’t get poetry,” and “what the hell is poetry even about, anyway?” All reasonable questions, I guess, for students who have grown up in a world where they almost never encounter poetry, other than in song lyrics or spoken-word …

in which teaching becomes a metaphor. or something.

Next week I am teaching Virginia Woolf’s brilliant and amazing essay A Room of One’s Own. So on my list of “to do” for the weekend is this note, jotted down while I was in a meeting: “find a way in to Room.” Indeed. Of course, what I meant (I think) was that I need to figure out how to help my students tackle this long essay. But the metaphor? …

Define “best and brightest”

I wrote this post back in the halycon days of Obama’s first presidency and well before “lean in” became a meme and not an athletic command.  I like to think that even with newborn Caleb strapped to my chest, I did a pretty good job at my job, but then I again, I was half-asleep most of the time, so I might not be the best judge. Outlaw Mama runs …

Teaching Keeps You Young. Except When It Makes You Feel Old.

Here’s the thing about being a professor: your students stay roughly the same from year to year. Eighteen is eighteen is eighteen, more or less. And the same with the twenty-year olds, and with the about-to-graduates.  Yes, the particularities of dreams and ambitions, talents and strengths, vary from student to student, but in a general way, youth is youth. Yes. Youth is youth, and every term, you sail further and …

in which people who have never ever been to abu dhabi say a whole lot of stuff about abu dhabi (and my job)

I live in Abu Dhabi. When I tell people that, I usually have to do a few follow-up comments. No, Abu Dhabi isn’t where they filmed that “Mission Impossible” movie, that’s Dubai; yes, it’s the setting for the dreadful “Sex and the City 2” movie, but that movie was actually filmed in Morocco; no, I don’t have to wear a veil; yes, I can move freely around the city; yes, …